Teams Per: 1 2 3
NOR: 0 1 0=1
REA: 0 0 3=3
NOR: 29-35-4-1 = 63 (13th Eastern Conference)
REA: 36-24-6-4 = 82 (5th Eastern Conference)
NOR: Riopel (LOSS) 12-16-1-0 (36/39)
REA: Morrison (WIN) 9-6-3-3 (32/33)
Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (Win, 36-24-6-4 = 82) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, defeated the Norfolk Admirals (Loss, 29-35-4-1 = 63) of the ECHL, affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League, 3-1, at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In the ninth and final matchup of the regular season against the Admirals, the Royals picked up their eighth win (8-0-0-1)—six of which have come in come-from-behind, including both wins this weekend—to stretch Reading’s unbeaten streak to five (4-0-1-0). For the second consecutive night, the Royals had difficulty solving Norfolk goaltender Nic Riopel, but in this one got a couple of favorable bounces in a three goal third to pull out the victory. The win pushed the Royals record to a season best twelve games over .500 and jumped Reading into fifth place in the Eastern Conference with two more regular season games to go.
After a scoreless first, during which the Royals only generated five shots on goal—and appeared to be exhibiting the heavy-leg effects of a Sunday afternoon three-in-three, the Admirals struck 3:57 into the second period when a half-hearted turnover in the offensive zone resulted in a full-steam ahead multi-player transition rush led by Danick Gauthier, which left a couple of Reading’s back-checkers in the dust. Gauthier led out Greg Chase down the right wing side into Reading’s defensive zone. Chase teed up a hot bullet from the right circle that Reading goaltender Adam Morrison fought off with the blocker. But the rebound fell to the interior portion of the left circle where the weak-side forward Braden Christoffer stepped up and swiped a one-timer behind Morrison for his eleventh of the year.
Reading didn’t begin to hit stride until the latter stages of the second period which carried over into the early portions of the third, when the team created a couple of quality looks, but still couldn’t solve Riopel, who was clearly not suffering from the Sunday afternoon blues.
In fact, the Royals needed a little help from Riopel’s teammates to finally break through. The game-tying goal came 11:31 into the final frame when Mike Marcou gained possession in the low left slot and made a clever stick-handling move to elude a sprawling Riopel at the left side of the crease. However, by the time Marcou was in position to get a shot, he was at a difficult, sharp angle and as he pushed the puck across the goal mouth, it appeared destined to miss. However, an Admiral defender reached in and attempted to swipe the puck out of harm’s way—but instead redirected it in for Marcou’s fourth of the year.
1:08 after that, Reading would get what proved to be the game winner on another ‘own-goal’ by the Admirals. On this one, Mike Pereira carried to the mid-slot for a hard snap shot which Riopel rejected with his pads. The puck, however, kicked right back up the gut, and struck a back-checking defender in the shin pad and ricocheted right back behind Riopel for what would be credited as Pereira’s eighteenth of the year.
Reading finally got a goal without the help of any Norfolk defenders five seconds into the team’s sixth power play chance of the game. Nikita Kashirsky won an offensive zone face-off to Pereira who carried to the mid-slot and ripped a seeing-eye snap shot through heavy traffic that appeared to catch Riopel off guard and buzzed by low on the blocker side for Pereira’s eighteenth of the season.
Pereira’s second goal gave Reading a little breathing space down the stretch as the team held on for a critical late season win, which served to push the Royals’ record to 9-1-1-1 in the last twelve played and put the team in a positive position while the continuing battle for the four available playoff spots in the Eastern Conference heads into the final week of the season.
The Royals complete the regular season with a back-to-back games against the Wheeling Nailers, the first of which will be played at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia, this Friday (April 8 @ 7:35 p.m.). Friday evening’s matchup can be heard live on CBS SportsRadio 1240 AM and 98.5 FM in Reading, Pennsylvania, starting with the pre-game warm-up show presented by Highmark Blue Shield at 7:05 pm Eastern Time. Friday’s game will also be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations. Streaming audio is available free of charge on the Royals’ website; and streaming video is available on a pay-per-view basis through ECHL.TV.
For more information about the Royals, call 610-898-7825 or log onto www.royalshockey.com.
End 16 04-03